Fairly Lazy Day
I spent the morning hiking a quasi-mountain called Elephant Trunk Hill. It took about 1.5 hours straight up, and wasn't my plan for the day but really satisfied what I wanted out of this town so I am quite pleased I did it. I was again awed, and a little embarrassed of myself, when confronted with the athleticism of the Chinese. I was passed by several 60ish men. (and some very very cute jogging and possibly not legal soldiers...I was good, I only oogled) None the less, I eventually made it to the top, and the view both of the entire valley & city and the Snow Mountain were incredible.
That being said, I chose not to go to the Snow Mountain today, because I am still sick, my lungs are sore, and frankly, I like the 60ish weather at ground level. I have seen a glacier before, I will probably see one again, and I just didn't want to risk making myself sicker. That, and it costs about 150 bucks to get there and back which seems a little absurd.
So instead, after I stared for a while and descended the mountain, I wandered a big city park, the centerpiece of which is the spring/river that flows from the mountain and makes the fertile valley inhabitable. The Jade Snow Mountain Stream is the center of everything here, it is routed right through the city and serves as a source of all of the fresh water used here. As you can see from the photos, you can't escape it.
After my wander, I decided to try a Mongolian Hot Pot. This is a dish which is cooked at your table, filled with spicy yak beef, onions, peppers, green onion, and various cabbages. It is served with a traditional sweetened sesame bean cake heavy as a brick and a plat of home made noodles(sort of like pad Thai noodles). I think I ate a pound of Yak. It was in the top 10 things I have ever eaten. It was designed for 2-3 people, and I put a serious hurting on it. I came home and took a rather unfulfilling nap after. I may just layze around and read a book the rest of the evening, for early tomorrow I leave for Tiger Leaping Gorge, and a long, long 2 days of hiking.
Here is a short list of my favorite, and least favorite things about the Chinese people in general so far.
1. They love the word "Hello" and get genuinely excited when you respond in kind. ( I had a little boy 3 or so shout "hello" at me as I came around a corner yesterday. He, me, and his parents/grandmother giggled together for 2 minutes. It was among the greatest human connections with no ability to speak I have ever had. It left me joyful the rest of the night, and was a great ending to my day which started terribly, but got progressively better.
2. They are shy like me, the appropriate response to coming upon a person is to look at them briefly then look down, which is my normal reaction to everyone.
3. They get soooo excited when you butcher their language. The fact that you are trying brings them genuine delightment, a Ni Hao brings a smile, and when I asked the fuwuyuan(waitress) for my Maidan(bill) last night she jumped up and down and squealed & clapped. It was totally cute.
4. They laugh all the time.
5. They are constantly being geniunely helpful.
6. They always have time for a cup of tea.
7. I feel like the giant I always wanted to be around them. Seriously, I have gotten like 30 things down off of high shelves in the last 4 days :) Although, it was less than pleasurable when a small child asked me why I was so big, lol.
1. They are so fucking loud. Constantly, they walk like elephants despite their slightness, they yell when they talk, I swear it often appears they will come to blows because they are trying to out-shout eachother. I am a quiet calm person a lot of the time. I have been completely unable to decompress since I got here because I cannot be alone & in silence anywhere. I am hoping to find that silence in the Gorge.
2. The nose thing. I have the hacking bronchial cough they all do, and I find myself hocking up lugees and spitting them, but the thing where they hold the bridge of their nose and just blow into the air makes me nuts! I get that it is more sanitary than a hankie, and less wasteful than a tisse, but good g-d is it gross.
3. Now this one is noones fault, but there are entirely too many people in the country. You feel like you are forever fighting for space. It is more tiring to walk the sqaure than to climb a thousand stairs to the summit. And it seems that as a defense mechanism, the Chinese try to take up as much space as possible, making it all the more difficult to negotiate the streets. It really is a stressful place to be.
4. They have to take 53 pictures of themselves in front of everything. This was really cute at first, but with the growing stresses of 1 & 3, it really begins to get on your nerves. Eh, they are still better tourists then the damned Germans, so I'll get over it.
5. The hard sell. But such is the way of the world when you are a rich american...
***this writing seems a little huge, but mom said it was too small before, so here goes ;)